By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman City Council meetings will likely be starting earlier this winter. Council members are considering a city ordinance that would move the meeting start time up one half hour earlier to 6 p.m.
If approved, the new meeting time will become effective in December. Council study sessions also would move forward one-half hour to 5 p.m.
The time change ordinance is in conjunction with a resolution to promote more orderly meetings. The most controversial portions of this resolution enact new rules that would affect public interaction at city council meetings.
One of the items on the draft resolution under consideration is a sign-in sheet for members of the public who want to speak on agenda items: “That all persons desiring to address the city council must sign in prior to the start of the meeting, indicating their name, residential address and agenda item number in which they wish to address the council on the sign-in sheet provided by the city clerk.”
Some council members were adamant that this rule be flexible enough to allow additional members of the public to speak. The sign-up would primarily provide an order for each person to have a fair and equal turn.
Time limits for speakers and for anyone making a presentation also were discussed. Under consideration are time limits of three minutes for the consent docket and five minutes for non-consent agenda items, with presentations limited to 15 minutes.
Once again, if these times are adopted, flexibility and an ability to allow for more time and discussion is to be built into the resolution.
Ward 4 council member Greg Jungman indicated that he is not in favor of moving forward with any limits on public speech. Rather, Jungman supports limiting the length of time for a council meeting to four hours in order to increase transparency for the general public.
Other council members indicated that they felt putting a time limit on the meetings would be a mistake.
The matter will be taken up in more detail and public comment will be allowed on the resolution under consideration at the next city council meeting.
While there was an apparent consensus on changing the time to an earlier start, other items on the proposed resolution are likely to be debated at the 6:30 p.m. council meeting Tuesday.
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